News | July 12, 1999

California Landfill Lobbies to Leave Lead-loaded Soil Lie

Waste Management Inc. officials have asked the State of California for a variance to allow lead-contaminated soil to remain at its Altamont Landfill.

Doug Sobey, senior vice president of Waste Management Inc., said on Jul. 7 that his firm was forced to seek the variance to gain legal leverage in getting the Giants to help pay the U.S.$1 million cost of dirt removal should that be required.

The 9400 tons of contaminated dirt from the Giants' new ballpark site at China Basin was dumped Mar. 1 and 2 after the state Department of Toxic Substances Control reclassified it as non-hazardous. However, the permit was pulled in the middle of the shipment when the department said it had erred and that the dirt did not meet requirements of a Class 2 landfill such as Altamont.

Sobey said the Giants have refused to share costs for excavation and removal since receiving a letter from the state indicating that a variance would probably be granted if Waste Management applied for it, according to the write-up of the dispute by the Los Angeles Times.

"We want this issue resolved," Sobey said. "If we don't file for a variance, we can't make a case with the Giants. We're at an impasse. The county has ordered excavation but the DTSC has indicated the soils do not pose a threat, and if we apply for a variance, they'd probably approve it. This (application) will enable the state to make a formal determination of whether a variance is appropriate."

Ron Baker, a spokesman for the state, could not say how long it would take to process the variance request, which was filed the week of Jul. 4. He said results from new soil samples would not be available for at least a week.

Sobey said that if Waste Management is forced to pay for removal on its own, costs would not be passed on to Alameda County garbage ratepayers.